The opening day of the Ranji Trophy Plate Division final between Railways and Gujarat at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday was the story of one man standing tall amongst the ruins.
Captain Murali Kartik opted to bat first after the coin landed in his favour. But the toss was probably the only thing that went the Railways' way on Day 1 as their batsmen struggled to make any headway allowing the Gujarat bowlers to call the shots instead.
Railways' total of 202/7 at the close of play was a testimony to their woeful state in the first stay besides being a tepid response to the captain's decision. And there was no semblance of a partnership.
Having said that, even the above total could be possible because of the resilience of one man Harshad Rawle, his dogged 89 being a result of batting patiently for more than five hours.
Rawle faced 224 balls, had 14 hits to the fence and remained undefeated at the end of day's play. The 23-year-old's contribution becomes even more significant when one looks at the fact that next best effort in the Railways' total was veteran Sanjay Bangar's laborious 26.
Railways' decision to bat seemed to have boomeranged when Siddharth Trivedi removed both Siddharth Joshi (0) and Karan Sharma (8) to have them reeling at 18/2. Rawle then joined Bangar to put in a 49-run stand for the third wicket before the latter edged a Ashraf Makda delivery to Parthiv Patel.
That runs came in a trickle can be judged from the fact that Railways were 69/3 going into lunch.
Things didn't improve much in the two subsequent sessions and the only Railways batsmen to get starts Sanjib Sanyal (16), Mahesh Rawat (24) and Raja Ali (17) could not stay around for long enough.
Rawle held fort at one end though, trying hard to forge a solid partnership with one of the above players. However, it never happened as the Gujarat bowlers didn't let their initial advantage slip away from their grasp.
19-year-old offie Mohnish Parmar whose action bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan was the pick of Gujarat bowlers with figures of 3/56.
Railways (1st innings):
S Bangar c P Patel b Makda 26
S Joshi c T Patel b Trivedi 0
K Sharma c T Patel b Trivedi 8
H Rawle not out 89
S Sanyal lbw b Parmar 16
M Rawat c P Patel b Singh 24
R Ali c P Patel b Parmar 17
M Kartik st P Patel b Parmar 1
H Singh not out 11
Extras: (lb 6, w 3, nb 1) 10
Total: (for 7 wickets in 90 overs) 202
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-18, 3-67, 4-106, 5-142, 6-180, 7-182
Bowling: S Trivedi 21-9-40-2, A Makda 18-5-41-1, A Singh 15-5-29-1, T Patel 12-4-30-0, M Parmar 24-5-56-3